March 2013

March 2013

All the information listed here is based on my own experience, please carry out your own research before attempting to replicate anything on this site.

TUESDAY, 26 MARCH 2013 >>

"Painting a picture of captive breeding"

One of my biggest aspirations as an exotic pet keeper is to establish a captive breeding programme for a species I'm passionate about, which is still largely wild-caught for the pet trade. This week finally saw some progress with such a programme for my Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima ( Painted or Central American wood turtles).

I've had two male Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima (R. p. incisa, the Honduran Wood turtle) for several years now, with one problem; females were pretty much impossible to find. I contacted various importers and suppliers, both in the UK and Europe, but it seemed a hopeless case. Thankfully, my searching paid off eventually, and this week I welcomed two new female turtles to my reptilarium. An oversight on my part however, was the assumption that my males were especially clumsy and problematic. Sadly this trait seems to be shared by both sexes, as the females rapidly set about destroying plants, climbing the walls (literally - to a height of nearly 3 feet), and bulldozing a barrier I had built to keep them separated from the males outside of breeding season.

Nevertheless, the two new females are stunning, and whilst they have blue eyes like my males (indicative of R. p. incisa), their vivid skin and shell colours make me think they are largely of the R. p. manni subspecies. Both incisa and manni have overlapping territories in the wild, and it may be the case that the females are naturally occurring subspecies hybrids.

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I have since restored the partition between the two sexes to avoid any sort of pestering from my males, however I might review this at some point to see if they can all be housed together. Their enclosure measures 3 metres when undivided, so should provide ample space for all four, assuming they can tolerate each other.

For anyone with an interest in planted vivaria and tropical American plants, I've just added a few home-grown Brazilian Rose Wood (Jacaranda mimosifolia) seedlings to the online shop. They're already developing the fern-like leaves which this species is known for, and should grow quickly in a tropical setting.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the photos. Stay posted and I'll try to put together a video of their enclosure for the next update! If you have any questions in the mean time, don't hesitate to contact me at the address below.

Paul Edmondson


"Little discoveries and experiments"

Firstly, I wanted to mention a great exotic pet shop which I stumbled upon in my travels. I happened to be in the Lancaster area recently, and dropped in to 'The Animal Zone' on Ullswater Road. Although from the outside it appeared to be very small, it turned out to have a great variety of reptiles and exotics for sale, many of which I wanted to take home, including Madagascan Day Geckos (Phelsuma madagascariensis) and Ridge-tailed Monitor Lizards (Varanus acanthurus).

Whilst browsing through their reptile selection, I happened to spot a couple of Golden geckos (Gekko ulikovskii), which I've been looking for females of for a long time. Females of this species are thought to have a more secretive lifestyle, and therefore rarely collected from the wild, with 75% of imported animals being male; a real pain for my hopes of establishing captive breeding. The staff were extremely helpful and let me take a close look at both the geckos they had in; in the end I came away with what looks like a young female (and some free crickets!). Knowing my luck, it'll probably turn out to be an immature male in disguise, but either way, I've got the space and resources for another gecko bachelor pad.

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With gecko housing in mind, I thought I'd also put up some illustrative photos of my new DIY enclosures, made from polycarbonate, perspex and PVC edging. Not only are they lightweight, waterproof and quick to make, but I've also added custom circular hatches which should let me access the enclosures for maintenance without any geckos escaping. I've previously been using modified plastic storage tubs, but these new designs provide more space and in my opinion, look a lot neater!

Another interesting development is the emerging of my adult Sun Beetles (Pachnoda marginata peregrina). Several weeks ago, I picked up some grubs on a whim, and chucked them in a box of soil, leaves and bark on top of my warm Tokay Gecko enclosure, in the hope of starting a new livefood culture. The adults are finally emerging, and have begun snacking on various bits of fruit. They look fantastic, and with a bit of luck they'll lay some eggs!

That's all for now; I'm hoping to start posting new updates more frequently from now on, and there's big news next week, so check back soon! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me using the email address below.

Paul Edmondson

MONDAY, 4 MARCH 2013 >>

"Maturation misbehaviour"

What a strange couple of weeks it's been! My adult turtles are usually the easiest to care for, as they're big, hardy and I've already got to grips with most of their husbandry requirements. For some reason however, they've recently become some of the biggest troublemakers in my collection.

The first offender was my oldest turtle, my 15 year old Red Eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans), who I'd noticed had lost some interest in food over winter, and seemed to continually pace the basking area. I did a number of habitat checks, but couldn't seem to figure out what was wrong, and have been monitoring her closely since. To my surprise this week, she began laying infertile eggs all over the place.

I say surprise because this turtle, despite her age, is only 6 inches long (shell length), and each egg measures at least 1-2”. After the first one was laid in the water, I hastily put together a nesting box from a plastic tray and damp sand, but she is refusing to use it so far, and now a total of 4 eggs have been laid in the water this week. Thankfully, she lives alone and has never had the chance to breed; I love baby turtles but there are plenty of unwanted Sliders needing homes here in the UK as it is without me breeding them!

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Speaking of baby turtles, Bourbon, my Common Snapper (Chelydra serpentina) seems to be shedding a lot, and growing a tad bigger. Since Snappers are somewhat binge eaters, I've been feeding him with turtle pudding on an 'every other day' basis. Recently however, I've also started feeding him a small number of Reptomin pellets daily to make sure he's getting a good mix of vitamins and minerals, and he certainly seems to appreciate the extra food.

My Chinese Softshell turtle (Pelodiscus sinensis) is the other main 'adult turtle' offender, and appears to have been up to mischief by squeezing under his filter and scratching his shell up. Softshells are notorious for easily damaging themselves, and mine is no exception. I've applied some Tamodine wound cleanser to the abrasions to prevent infection and speed up recovery, and have used the photos from this process in a new article on treating turtle shell wounds. The filter has since been repositioned and even sanded down to prevent any rough surfaces since.

During the treatment, the turtle was of course not happy, and hopefully you can see from the photo how much of a handful he is becoming. Softshells become very nervous and defensive when out of the comfort of the water, and their mollusc-crushing jaws pack quite a bite. Even through my thick handling gloves, some of his bites hurt like heck!

Let me know if you have any questions, and feel free to email me at the address below,

Paul Edmondson

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